Pope Francis presents global plan to support families who want children

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This is Pope Francis' first public outing in Rome in more than a year due to the pandemic.

He left the Vatican to open a conference on the current birth rate crisis. 

'Are you okay?'
'I'm still alive...'

On stage, the Pope was in good company... There, the main organizer of the conference explained the dynamics of Italy's population crisis. 

Forum delle Associazioni Familiari
'Every year we are losing the equivalent of an entire city the size of Florence.'

Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, noted that the average age in Italy is 47 years old, and that while most couples want to have at least two children, conditions Italy do not allow them to do so. 

Prime Minister of Italy
'Having children used to be seen as a failure for women while individualism was considered a victory. Today, by overcoming significant ideological barriers, we see that this is a false distinction that is not reflected in the data, (...) from the UN: couples would actually like to have more children than they already have.'

Pope Francis expressed his disappointment in society, which he says is not prioritizing the birth rate crisis in Europe. 

The Pope proposes providing care for young families and addressing the factors which prevent them from having children, such as job insecurity and the cost of education. 

'It makes me sad to think about women who are discouraged from having children while in the workforce or who have to hide their pregnancy. How is it possible for a woman to feel ashamed of the most beautiful gift that life can offer? Society should be ashamed, not the woman, because a society that does not welcome life ceases to live. Children are the hope that gives birth to a people'.

The Pope called on governments to pursue ambitious and long-term measures to tackle falling birth rates. But he said that the answers cannot come politicians alone, and called for businesses, the cultural sector and the media to work together towards a solution. 

'What is our treasure, the treasure of our society? Is it children or finances? What do we want, family or profit? We must have the courage to choose what comes first, because that is where we will put our heart. The courage to bet on life is creative, because it does not accumulate or multiply what already exists, but is open to novelty, to surprises'.

As a gift, the organizers gave the Pope a bonsai tree. A metaphor for the importance of sowing life to rebuild society. 


TR: Justin McLellan

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